‘Tis the Season for Dogs

Therapy Dog2

flickr / Marvin Kuo

Dogs have long been known as man’s best friend, but it seems they are also becoming man’s best therapist.

Pets have been found to help individuals deal with stress and health related issues – studies have found that pets reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and depression while increasing endorphins and dopamine – but they are now being used do so in new and creative ways.

The Lutheran Church Charities in Illinois, for example, recently sent a group of dogs as part of their K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry to Newton, Connecticut to help grieving children and adults cope with the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School last week. The ministry, which began four years ago after a gunman killed five students at Northern Illinois University, currently has 60 dogs in six states to help individuals deal with traumatic events.

Furthermore, Dalhousie University, similar to the University of Ottawa and McGill University in years past, created a “puppy room” to help students cope with the stress of exams and end-of-term assignments. There is even a Kingdom Dog ministry that uses dogs to teach the biblical truths of obedience and submission in the Christian life. (Evidently they have never watched Marley & Me.)

So, are you stressed about family get togethers over Christmas? Well, just grab a couple dogs and you will be fine – as long as you aren’t hosting of course.